Gail Howard's Egypt Travel Adventures Story Continued
The rider controlled the movements of the horse with his feet, by giving sharp quick kicks to the horse’s belly. His hands held the reins loosely. I noticed that one side of the horse was bleeding, and the metal stirrups gouged the poor horse’s open wound. I felt so sorry for the horse that I wished they would end the torture, but I could not speak out because the spectacle was being performed just for me.
After about 20 minutes, the horse reared up a few times and bowed deeply. The musicians leaped on their horses and disappeared into the desert.
Shortly after that, another group of musicians arrived, along with a belly dancer and her assistant. They lined themselves on the sofas inside the tent. Cushions were piled up around me and I felt like Cleopatra. Egyptian wine was served to everyone.
After that the hubble bubble (water pipe) was brought out.
The musicians sat around a big round table and preparations began. On the table was a pot of tiny chips of glowing red coals. Small pieces were broken off a big ball of hashish and mixed with tobacco soaked in honey and laid on the coals.
When it was ready, a musician inhaled deeply on the pipe and the water made a bubbly sound. Smoke poured out his nostrils like two horns. He continued inhaling. Quickly he handed the pipe to another, then coughed and gasped and made a face.
Coals were constantly added to the pipe bowl, even while someone was smoking. When the water became yellow with nicotine, it was changed for fresh water.
When it was Ali’s turn on the pipe, I became a bit concerned. How would he react under the influence of hashish? Was I stuck in the middle of the desert with a pack of Egyptian hopheads?
The pipe was passed to me. I refused it and Ali gave me a brief lecture about friendship, respect and trust. I took a tiny lady-like puff and everyone was happy. The belly dancer took the same quick puff to be a sport. Her assistant, who carried her bag, sat in a corner as if she didn’t exist.
When everyone had enough of the hubble-bubble water pipe, dinner was served. I was relieved to see that no one acted any differently after smoking hashish.
After dinner, the musicians started playing and the belly dancer went to another tent to change into her costume. Shortly, she reappeared and the show was on. After she had danced for about 15 minutes, she grabbed my hand and pulled me up onto the floor to join her. She lifted her skirts so I could see the leg work. I imitated each step she showed me. Then she put the steps together and started dancing, encouraging me to do the same. I was in sheer heaven dancing to such beautiful exotic and exciting music.
It had been a unique and wonderful afternoon and evening. I felt honored to be the first guest with whom Ali had so graciously shared his birthday gift.